Three days after a major outbreak of diarrhoea in Sector 19 and Abhaypur due to contaminated water supply, the authorities still did not know the source of contamination even as the number of patients admitted to hospitals crossed 200 on Sunday.
Last night, a 70-year-old woman died and the authorities suspect it could be due to illness caused by contaminated water.
“The woman stayed with her son, who is believed to be mentally challenged. She was brought dead to the hospital, so we cannot confirm if it was actually a case of water contamination, but we suspect it to be so. With no one to care of her, it could be that she was ill for quite some time,” said Civil Surgeon, Dr V K Bansal.
The Sector 19 dispensary and emergency of the General Hospital, Sector 6, were overflowing with patients, although many had been discharged after primary treatment. Three persons were referred to the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) in Chandigarh.
The water supply to the affected areas is from five tubewells, which are maintained by Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA). The residents initially suspected leakage at some points in the underground pipeline, but the district administration denied it.
“We have not been able to determine the cause of contamination. Our teams had surveyed the pipeline in the area, but did not detect any leakage point. We suspect that the outbreak could be because of contamination of groundwater from where the tubewells draw water,” said Deputy Commissioner S S Phulia.
Teams from General Hospital, Public Health Department, and HUDA are surveying the area, and creating awareness among the public. “Our main focus is on a house-to-house survey, through which we detect the cases early, and control them. We are also disconnecting the water supply to certain houses. Public announcements to maintainin hygiene through loudspeakers are also being made,” said Phulia.
The DC ruled out the option of disconnecting the water supply to the affected areas. “We thought about it, but this would create more problems for residents, as they need water for other purposes too. This is why we are sending water tankers to provide them with drinking water,” he added.
As for the treatment of affected persons, “We have added around 20 beds to the dispensary, and we are keeping it open 24 hours. Distribution of chlorine tablets is being done”, said Dr V K Bansal, Civil Surgeon.